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How to choose a replacement FM antenna for your car

Common questions about replacing your car's FM antenna

antenna install

Most modern vehicles will never need to have the AM/FM radio antenna replaced. But older cars or cars with long, thin metal-shaft antennas might occasionally need a replacement. Those are the vehicles and antennas that we're talking about here. 

How do I know if I need a new antenna?

It's sometimes hard to tell with FM, because relatively strong FM signals can sometimes be picked up without an antenna. On the other hand, if you get nothing across the entire AM band, you probably need a new antenna.

If you can tune in a station, gently take hold of the antenna near its base and jiggle it lightly back and forth. If the signal pops in and out, your antenna is not making firm contact with the body of the car. It may just need tightening, or it may be partially corroded and need replacing.

Stock antennas may need to be replaced after only four to six years. They wear out faster if you live near the ocean, where the salty sea breezes can accelerate corrosion. Generally, most people will only need to replace the antenna if the mast is obviously rusted or broken.

What if my radio antenna is in the windshield? 

If you have an antenna that's embedded in the windshield, you'll get better reception if you upgrade to a fender-mounted antenna. They're just better at receiving radio signals. But that means you'll need to cut a hole in a fender and run the antenna cable to your radio. Do-able, but more challenging than a direct-replacement job. 

Motorized antennas

If you want the convenience and security of a motorized antenna, which automatically raises and lowers the mast, we have models to fit most vehicles. However, a motorized model won't improve reception unless the original antenna has gone bad.

Is installing a new antenna a difficult task?

Installing an antenna can be challenging because of the need to replace the entire run of antenna cable. But if you give yourself plenty of time and follow our suggestions for feeding the cable through the car, you should be able to do it without too much difficulty. When you purchase your replacement antenna from Crutchfield, we give you installation instructions specific to your vehicle AND our technical support expertise.

Would an antenna booster improve my radio reception?

If your overall reception is good and you just want to get better reception on a couple of stations, then yes, an antenna booster may do the trick. On the other hand, if your overall reception is poor, the problem may be the antenna or the radio's tuner.

First check the antenna connection using the "jiggle test" we mentioned up top. If radio reception pops in and out when you gently jiggle the base of the antenna, then your antenna is not making firm contact with the body of the car. It may just need tightening, or it may be partially corroded and need replacing.

If the connection is fine and the antenna is not obviously rusted or broken, then changing antennas won't be of much help. In this case a booster may be easiest, most cost-effective solution.

You might need a cable adapter

Most car manufacturers use a standardized antenna connection, called a Motorola plug. If you own a GM, Nissan, or VW, however, you'll need an adapter. These manufacturers do not use the standard connector. Crutchfield carries the appropriate adapter for your vehicle, so use our vehicle selector to find the right adapter and a new antenna.

In most cases, you need to remove your radio to reach the antenna plug. If you buy your antenna from Crutchfield, you'll get the stereo removal instructions for your vehicle for free. As with anything else you buy from us, we'll be here if you need any help when you install your new antenna. Our Tech Support staff is just a phone call away.

We're here to help

To see if we have a replacement antenna for your vehicle, just tell us what you drive and we'll show you your options. And if you have any questions, contact our helpful advisors via phone or chat. 

  • Daryl

    Posted on 9/10/2023

    I have a vintage '67 Alfa Romeo Spider. The fender mounted car antenna mast is broken. Can it be replaced by a retractable model that turns on and on with the car radio? Also the current mount is on a slightly curved section of the fender. Will all mount work for that?

    Commenter image

    Dominic DeVito from Crutchfield

    on 9/11/2023

    Hi Daryl - for any questions regarding a car we haven't databased yet (such as a '67 Alfa Romeo Spider), a conversation with a real live human is the best route. One of our experienced Advisors can likely point you toward a solution, or at least help you better understand why certain things might or might not work given more context than a couple of sentences. Give us a call or use our web chat feature at your convenience.
  • Mary from Mesquite

    Posted on 3/4/2023

    Car wash broke my antenna located on top of mySUV It's hanging on by a thread. Would it be ok to tape it together with black all weather Electrical tape?

    Commenter image

    Dominic DeVito from Crutchfield

    on 3/4/2023

    HI Mary - electrical tape might work as a temporary solution, but I wouldn't count on it keeping your antenna upright over the long haul. Give one of our Advisors a call or chat to discuss options for a replacement antenna for your SUV.

    Posted on 5/3/2022

    I have a 96 Vette with a Bose Gold system, the power antenna broke and I replaced it with a non power antenna (aftermarket) now I have weak signal strength. Is there something I can do to regain signal strength without replacing the stock power antenna? Thanks.

    Commenter image

    Dominic DeVito from Crutchfield

    on 5/4/2022

    Hi Steven - hope we can help you out. First, I'd try to double check the ground for the antenna since most standard mast antennas rely on a metal body for grounding. If you run a wire from a grounding point within the 'Vette and attach it to the antenna via the mounting hardware screws you may also see some improvement as well. If that doesn't help, purchasing this FM signal amplifier should give you a better signal. If you have further questions, one of our Advisors will be happy to assist you via phone or web chat.
  • John Pilkin from Rawl

    Posted on 2/24/2022

    I have a 2019 dodge ram that barely picks up fm radio stations but every vehicle I have had newer than 1995 has been this way is there any solution for this problem?

  • Sam Schmid from Gretna

    Posted on 10/10/2021

    Bought a WPA 1 from your company. Disappointed to find a cheap plastic unit in box, tried it anyway. Your "advertised" 7'3" cable/ power wire was barely 6'. IF it were 7'3", would still be a problem to go around A Pilar to back of dash to plug into radio. The .58 ga. "power wire" has only 3 copper threads, less than speaker wire. Had to drop cable down front of my windshield to thread through ash tray opening to connect to radio plug in. Installed, got worse FM reception, but NO AM reception AT ALL !! Not even from our 100,000 watt megastation.... can barely hear our flamethrower under all the static ? Oh, the "6" ground wire" is only 4", but can mount on the mirror bracket screws. How much does wire cost ?? ANY REAL radio guy knows that most FM head units will pick up most local FM stations w/ NO antenna. My present setup has my car missing it's stock antenna mast, can't find a replacement mast. My substitute is a metal rod inserted into roof housing... not a true radio antenna mast. Your rep Bruce told me before order that WPA 1 would enhance BOTH AM & FM. Not true. Does your company make a good quality antenna to increase my broadcast signal distance ? My quality stereo is Pioneer... have always had great service from Pioneers in several vehicles. They invented the "Supertuner".... Yep, I've been Pioneer since my first car in '76 ! Quality !!

  • Robert Antkowiak from Alburg

    Posted on 7/30/2021

    I think I have a antenna base or antenna that is bad on my 2011 Chevy traverse. What adaptor is needed to connect a fender mounted antenna.

    Commenter image

    Ken Nail from Crutchfield

    on 8/2/2021

    Good news, Robert. We've got just the part you need. The Metra 40-CR20 Antenna Adapter should be all you need to connect an aftermarket antenna to your factory radio. Good luck with your project!
  • Sean D. from Byron Center

    Posted on 9/3/2020

    My 05 Subie Outback has the antenna integrated into the rear windshield. When I crank on the window defogger in the back, I lose a ton of reception. I'm going to check some of the wiring between the body and tailgate, but assuming everything looks good, I'm assuming to mitigate this issue would be a physical antenna instead?

  • Ira S. Cohen from Delray Beach

    Posted on 8/2/2020

    do some car cd receivers have better FM reception than others?

    Commenter image

    Ken Nail from Crutchfield

    on 8/3/2020

    Good question Ira. The answer is yes - some receivers have better reception than others. When you're comparing receivers, be sure to check the "Details" tab and look for "FM Sensitivity." Receivers with a smaller value have better FM reception. Hope that helps!
  • Commenter image

    Alexander Hrabe from Crutchfield

    Posted on 4/19/2018

    Chuck, we don't sell a replacement antenna for your vehicle. If you've installed an aftermarket receiver, it may be worth checking your connections/wiring to see if any adjustments could improve that interference issue.

  • Chuck from Elkhorn

    Posted on 4/18/2018

    I get a lot of electrical interference when listening to AM stations. I have a 2007 Nissan Frontier with an aftermarket Kenwood head unit. Antenna is stock. Our other vehicle doesn't get nearly the same amount of interference. Would a different antenna help? Are there antenna's made that filter all that electrical noise?

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